Rather than point the finger at Ash Taylor, Gold Coast coach Justin Holbrook has challenged his forward pack to lift after the Titans slumped to their 14th straight NRL defeat.
Holbrook cut a frustrated figure after the Gold Coast were thumped 36-6 by North Queensland in Townsville on Friday night.
But it had nothing to do with regular halfback Taylor who struggled to get a pass mark after being switched to five-eighth for the first time in his 83-game NRL career.
Holbrook came up with the idea to move his prized playmaker after mulling over ways to spark his struggling side during the eight week coronavirus shutdown.
But by full-time on Friday night Holbrook was left with plenty more to ponder after the misfiring Taylor’s efforts were overshadowed by his monstered pack.
Five Cowboys forwards racked up more than 100m, topped by Tongan juggernaut Jason Taumalolo (274m) with even bench weapon Francis Molo (144m) joining the club.
Just two members of the Titans pack cracked triple figures – hard-working prop Moeaki Fotuaika and Queensland lock Jai Arrow.
“We weren’t good enough. We were a million miles off like we were in round two (46-6 loss to Parramatta),” Holbrook said.
“(But) I don’t think it is anything on Ash.
“I think collectively as a forward pack we have got to hang in there a bit harder.
“We have got to work harder in the 80 minutes.”
Holbrook is used to success, taking up the Titans reins this year after claiming the 2019 UK Super League premiership with St Helens.
However, it is hard to see where the Gold Coast’s next win will come looking at their form – or lack thereof.
The Titans are now coming up to one year without a win, last savouring victory in round 13 on June 9 last year.
The previous longest wait for a win was endured by Western Suburbs who went 364 days without a victory from April 22, 1984 until April 21, 1985, losing 22 straight.
Holbrook offered no excuses despite enduring a last minute backline reshuffle against the Cowboys after losing fullback Tyrone Roberts (ankle) and winger Anthony Don (knee).
“It doesn’t help when you lose a couple of players during the week,” he said.
“But plenty of teams have to deal with it and we didn’t deal well with it with the late reshuffle.
“We are not playing smart enough.”